Jr. Detective Agency
By Brian Costello,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Silly, fun parody of noir films, with some bullying.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Intended to entertain, not educate, but kids might learn a bit about classic detective stories.
Through young aspiring detective, Sam Steele Jr. kids get the message that you can be anything you want to be if you put your mind to it. The importance of family is reinforced when the Steeles are shown to be loving and nurturing, but also unafraid to be stern and strict with Sam when his detective behavior gets to be a bit exuberant.
Positive Role Models
The Steele family is shown to be welcoming neighbors to a family, the Marshes, who have just moved in on their block. The Marshes adopt a beagle when it needs a home after dogs are no longer allowed in the firehouse where Dave Marsh works. The family sets an example of a loving, but firm parenting style.
Violence & Scariness
Sam gets tossed into a dumpster after being chased by three bullies. Later he is shoved to the ground by the big brother of a boy whose bike he has taken after mistakenly believing that it had been stolen.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this family-friendly spin on a noir detective movie has two mild instances of violence. Sam, the boy detective, gets tossed into a dumpster by bullies and shoved to the ground by a defensive older brother. But on the whole, Sam's silly internal monologues parodying '40s detectives and his quest to catch a thief with his police detective father is safe and silly fare.
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Based on 4 parent reviews
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Goofy and harmless
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What's the Story?
Trying to emulate his father, Sam Steele Jr.(Jacob Hays) runs the JR. DETECTIVE AGENCY, where he goes around his neighborhood trying to solve cases involving "bullies and thieves," with mixed results. Meanwhile, a mysterious French-accented thief known only as "The Cat" (Luke Perry) is stealing jewelry and art from museums all over Des Moines, and Sam's father is one of the detectives trying to crack the case. When new girl in the neighborhood Emma teams up with Sam and comes across an important tip, it's Sam Jr.'s chance to try and catch the elusive thief before he steals an original Michelangelo painting.
Is It Any Good?
Jr. Detective Agency is most enjoyable when the 13-year-old aspiring detective has internal monologues attempting the hard-boiled noir-speak of Raymond Chandler novels. It's ludicrously cute as he does this, and it nearly makes up for the phoned-in French accent of Luke Perry, to say nothing of the terrible acting of the second-tier characters.
Still, as a kid-version of noir, Jr. Detective Agency has enough charming moments to be entertaining for both kids and adults.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Sam's interest in becoming a detective. Talk about some of the choices he makes in pursuit of his dream. How do his friends and family help him along the way? What lessons can kids learn from Sam's adventures?
Who does Sam admire in this movie? Do you think his role models are positive ones? Who are your real-life role models?
- On DVD or streaming: January 4, 2011
- Cast: Jacob Hays, Luke Perry, M. Emmet Walsh
- Director: Tom Whitus
- Studio: Screen Media Films
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures
- Run time: 86 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: March 12, 2022
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